Oil sands experts on tap for town hall

The risks and the realities of pipelines are the focus of a town hall meeting March 7 at the Best Western Rainbow Country Inn, hosted by the PIPE UP Network.

The timing has to do with the National Energy Board gearing up for hearings on the proposed pipeline project by Kinder Morgan, which is planned to cut through communities across the Lower Mainland.

The panel of experts with varied expertise will weigh the risks and costs of the Alberta tar sands from a more "holistic" perspective, explained event emcee Natalie Jones, of the Water Wealth Project.

"The proponents that we hear from on these projects, it's not their job to give us the whole story, so I'm excited to hear from experts who have more balanced perspective," said Jones.

Oil sands experts Andrew Nikiforuk, Melina Laboucan–Massimo and Liz McDowell, along with local Skwah elder Eddie Gardner, salmon champion, will be participating.

Jones said as a resident at the Yarrow Ecovillage, she is personally affected by the proposed pipeline expansion, as it crosses through a Ecovilage Community Farm field shared by the strata owners.

"The impact the pipeline could have on my community is something I think about a lot," she said. "Even a little spill would be totally devastating."

Jones is particularly interested in what McDowell, from Conversations for Responsible Economic Development B.C., has to say.

"She'll be tracking things like costs to our communities and impacts on property values," she said.

Hearing from Laboucan–Massimo will be informative since she lived through a bitumen spill in Lubicon Cree territory in Alberta.

"She will bring her experience as an impacted person, but also as an academic and professor she can offer the bigger picture," said Jones.

As the NEB hearing approaches, "it is essential that local residents have quality information about the risks and realities of having this project cut through our communities," according to the release.



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